Speaking to Aaron Lopresti proved be exceptionally interesting for me. Clearly he is a lovely man and dedicated to his craft, and yet through no fault of his own some of his experiences could almost act as a warning to many freelance creators. Perhaps it is true that many incredibly talented men and women within the field of the comic industry survive at the whim of various corporate choices that are seemingly of little importance and beyond their control.
When I asked for a little trivia about himself he simple had this to say: "Of all the Star Trek TV series I will only watch TOS. Love professional basketball and college football. Favourite teams, Portland Trailblazers and University of Nebraska Cornhuskers."
Paul: What was the first comic you recall buying or enjoying? I am essentially asking how old may have been? Everyone remembers their first comic?
Aaron: When I was 7, we were on a family vacation and my mom and I went into a grocery store where there was a huge wooden magazine rack. Mixed in with the magazines they also had comic books on display. I knew nothing about any of the specific characters really, but the covers to Fantastic Four #112 (Hulk vs. Thing) and the cover to Amazing Adventures #8 (Thor vs Black Bolt by Neal Adams) really caught my eye. I picked out those two and read them in the back of the car as we travelled. The Amazing Adventures story with the realistic Neal Adams art and the political themes in it, really unsettled me, so I spent most of my time reading and re-reading the FF #112. I didn’t start buying comics regularly until a couple of years later, so I thought the Thing had died at the end of FF #112 for a long time!
Paul: Were there any specific comics or artists that inspired you to decide to create for a living?
Aaron: I was only really interested in animated cartoons and drawing them until I really discovered comics regularly around the age of 10. That is when I became obsessed with sequential story-telling and the idea of superheroes and heroic adventure. Everything I did artistically from that point on was focused on comics. My earliest artistic influences were Frazetta, Wrightson and Neal Adams. I also had short periods where my drawing style was influenced by Starlin, Barry Smith and John Severin.I bought How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way the day it came out in bookstores, so I would have to sight John Buscema as a major influence as well.
Paul: What may have been your very first published work? And if possible, could you say who was your first editor?
Aaron: My first published work was Solomon Kane 3-D for BlackThorne Publishing, a small indie publisher located in Southern California. I think I am still owed money from a job or two I did for them.I couldn’t tell you who the editor was. My first mainstream work was on Marvel Comics Presents #39 and my editor on that was Terry Kavanaugh. I harassed the poor guy until he finally relented and gave me a story to draw.
Paul: What was the story Terry Kavanaugh finally gave you on Marvel Comics Presents?
Aaron: It was a Spider-Man story in Marvel Comics Presents #39. He also gave me a Sub-Mariner inventory story that sat around for a long while before it got used. Then he gave me my first "What The…?"! It was a story before Rene Witterstaetter took the book over.
Paul: You are known for your work on so many comics. Many of them have been for Marvel. Can you choose a particular favourite project or issue you have worked upon?
Aaron: The Planet Hulk storyline is probably still my favorite. Greg Pak was the writer and he was a graduate of NYU Film School and I went to USC Film School, so we had a connection there. I did about half of the issues as I was brought on to do alternate story arcs with the regular Hulk artist at the time, Carlo Pagulayan. I also really enjoyed my run on Ms. Marvel after that with writer Brian Reed. My all time favorite single-issue was “What If: Avengers Disassembled” with writer Jeff Parker.
Paul: I have to ask about Garbage Man. It seems like he had an odd creation history and perhaps there was eventually some debate over ownership? Also the character seems to have had a rather disjointed publication history. Can you elaborate at all on the history of this creation?
Aaron: When I first went over to DC from Marvel, I specifically spoke to Dan DiDio about getting more writing opportunities. He was agreeable to that and then mentioned he felt DC needed a monster book. He wanted to bring Swamp Thing back into the DCU but Vertigo had control of the character and would not let Dan use it, so he was looking to create something new to replace it. I told him I would come up with something for him and that is how Garbage Man was created. It was originally going to have its own series and then it was changed to a mini-series and then it was going to run as a regular back-up feature in the Bat books and then eventually ended up in two anthology mini-series, Weird Worlds and My Greatest Adventure. Before I could even finish the mini-series, Dan had secured the rights to Swamp Thing back from Vertigo and Garbage Man was no longer needed. The character was developed as a creator-owned project that DC would license from me. After several years of non-use, Dan gave me the rights back to the character. After an unsuccessful crowd-fund, I took it to Dark Horse where I replaced Batman (who appeared in the story) with my own characters and then reprinted all of the DC stories in a trade paperback. Now I am bringing the character back as a back-up story in my new WRAITH OF GOD:BLOOD HUNTERS book.
Paul: You are known as an artist but you are also a writer. Are there any writers you take inspiration from and how do you approach writing? For example have you considered writing for other artists?
Aaron: All of my writing knowledge and inspiration comes from film. I have obviously read a great deal of comics in my life and I do adhere to Stan Lee’s formula of 16 pages of action and 6 pages of soap opera but everything I have learned about writing is what I learned in film school in my writing classes. On a couple of occasions I have talked to other artists about writing for them but nothing has yet to come to fruition. I tend to be a bit of a control freak and I prefer to do everything myself when possible.
Paul: Many writers and artists enjoy comic conventions. Is that or was that a part of your career you enjoyed? If so, do you have any cool convention stories you are allowed to tell?
Aaron: I am an avid old comic collector so I always enjoyed going to shows and conventions so I could make some money and then spend it on collectibles! I have always enjoyed the opportunity to get out and meet fans and other collectors. I have so many stories of the greats I have been privileged to meet, hang out with and becomes friends with. Paul Ryan, Walter Simonson, Adam Hughes, Berni Wrightson, Howard Chaykin and the list goes on and on.
Aaron: Once in the early 90’s after the San Diego Convention had closed down on the final day, I was walking around looking over the remains as exhibitors were packing up there things. A bearded gentleman with glasses passed by me wearing a very cool looking dinosaur T-shirt. I blurted out, “Cool shirt”. He responded, “Thanks, I drew it!” It was Walter Simonson. I introduced myself and we talked for several minutes. Maybe a year or two later I met him again, along with his wife, Louise, and we became friends. I actually got the privilege of staying at his home on two separate occasions while visiting New York. Truly one of the nicest couples I have ever met!
Paul: How do you feel about digital comics. If you read comics still do you use a tablet or a laptop etc or do you prefer the paper versions?
Aaron: I am not a fan of digital anything to be honest. It may just be my age, but I only read old fashioned printed comics. I do color my comic work in Photoshop but I pencil and ink the old fashioned way, on paper. I also, given the time and opportunity, would rather paint.
Paul: It may sound like a daft question, but if you could have any superpower what would it be and why?
Aaron: Probably flying. Getting around quicker has always appealed to me. However, in today’s rather volatile social environment, super strength (for personal protection) might be the smarter choice.
Paul:: Are there any titles you've not had the opportunity to draw that you would like to try? I mean from any publisher, not just Marvel and DC.
Aaron: I always wanted to do a run on “classic” Captain America. I also have a Man-Thing one-shot I have wanted to do for years. I was supposed to take over Superman when I was finished with my run on Wonder Woman but I decided not to do it because the story direction was lame. I have drawn Superman in Justice League and as a guest star in other books but doing a run on “classic” Superman would be fun.
Paul: What does the future hold for you? Are there any projects you are working upon you would like to promote?
Aaron: My time in mainstream comics came to a screeching halt when Dan Didio was let go from DC Comics and nearly the rest of the staff that I had spent a decade building relationships was fired a few months later by AT&T. I had a choice, go and grovel before a bunch of new young editors who didn’t know me or strike out on my own and finally publish some of my characters that I owned. I chose the latter and there is no turning back now. I crowd-funded a very successful graphic novel called Wraith of God in 2022.
Aaron: It is a superhero/western/monster book, a sort of Batman of the Old American West Monster Hunter. I am currently crowd-funding on Indiegogo the sequel, Wraith of God:Blood Hunters, where the Wraith and his partner, Esther take on a vampire and his brides. This book also features back-up stories with some of my other characters, Garbage Man, The Night Club and Kit Carter: Galactic Ranger.
Paul: Aaron, it has been a pleasure and thank you for your valuable time.